September 30, 2014

Are You a Jolly Roger DJ? The Perils of Piracy

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Music piracy continues its thorny climb into popular consciousness, what with the recent court case awarding damages to the RIAA to the tune of $675,000 from an illegal down-loader in Massachusetts.

We asked entertainment lawyer and DJ Times contributor Coe W. Ramsey a couple questions t make sure we’re not participating in inadvertent piracy.

Is it okay for me to rip CDs I’ve purchased and import them into my personal DJ software, such as Serato? Yes. While technically ripping a CD results in unauthorized copies, as long as you are making the copies of legally acquired music for your own personal use and do not further distribute the copies to other people, record companies generally do not object to such copying. Be careful, however, when you make copies of your music for personal use as “backups” or otherwise, that you should not distribute either the copy or the original to others. If you wish to give away or sell your original CDs, you should destroy your copies.

I have a multi-system mobile DJ business with five DJs. Can I buy one legal version of a song and make copies of it for all of my DJs? No. If you operate a multi-system DJ service, you should obtain legal versions of your music for each of your DJs. It is not permissible to buy one legal version and make multiple copies. Such copying goes beyond your personal use for two reasons: first, you would be distributing copies to others; and second, you would be doing so in the conduct of a for-profit business.

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